Huawei to Launch First Harmony OS for Smartphones

Huawei is showcasing to the world its resilience and research capacity with its Harmony OS for smartphones, amid the buffeting of US sanctions and the Google ban. 

Huawei’s Harmony OS beta will be available to developers around Dec. 18, according to Chenglu Wang, president of the software department at Huawei Consumer Business Group. Users will be able to upgrade to Harmony OS in January or February before the system is fully open to the public.

Wang said that more than 90% of Huawei smartphones should be ready for the upgrade, once the Harmony OS is open to the public. 

Huawei unveiled its Harmony OS system in 2019, after US sanctions required Huawei suppliers to apply for permits should they want to continue supplying Huawei. Subsequently, Google stopped supporting Huawei and no longer sent updates to Huawei smartphones, meaning Huawei would have to find its own OS to sustain its vital smartphone business line. 

Huawei is the second-largest smartphone manufacturer in the world with 240 million shipments in 2019. The company shipped 156 million smartphones in the first three quarters this year. At a conservative estimate, there are 500 million Huawei smartphone users globally, according to a report. If half of its users updated to Harmony OS, there would be 250 million Harmony OS users, which would make it the third most-used phone operating system in the world, following Android and iOS.

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Including smart television, wearable devices, smart automobile and other hardware, Huawei’s Harmony OS will be looking at a larger number of users, according to the report.

Huawei’s Harmony OS has now developed a 2.0 version, supporting Honor smart TV, Huawei Watch and other home electronics, but yet to support smartphones. This would be its first adaptation to smartphones. At Huawei’s Developer Conference in 2020, the company’s executive Chengdong Yu presented that Huawei’s Huawei Mobile Services (HMS) had accumulated 960,000 apps, 1.8 million developers and 490 million active users, and provided more than 12,000 APIs (Application Programming Interface) to developers, far more than Google. 

To build an ecosystem that supports multiple devices and platforms, Harmony OS needs more third-party partners. iOS and Google’s applications are largely reliant on smartphone hardware, while Harmony OS strives to rise above and connect phones with home electronics automatically. As of now, Huawei has established deep partnerships with China’s top IoT makers and home electronics manufacturers such as Midea Group, Joyoung and Hangzhou Robam Appliances, who will launch home devices with Harmony OS soon. 

According to the company, home appliances that support Harmony 2.0 already include washing machines, refrigerators, air conditioners, ovens and rice cookers, among others, which will enter the market soon.